Magtastic Blogsplosion has reviews of the Newsweek (here) and New York Times Magazine (here) redesigns. Newsweek is worth paying attention to as Tina Brown was named EIC after it was merged with The Daily Beast. Tina famously broke the ban on treating photography seriously in The New Yorker by hiring Richard Avedon. That was after she put Vanity Fair on the map. Of course that was a different era in magazines and now that we have the internet to contend with who knows if she can right that old ship.
Magtastic says the photo editing is well done and the journalism is solid but there’s some “poor-taste news-related gossip” sprinkled in there that weakens the whole package. Personally, I really like the idea of combining the far reaching seo baiting Daily Beast with serious journalism and photography of Newsweek. And, I agree they should stay separate. Online should up-sell the magazine and drive traffic to the newsstand for important stories. Now that the entire issue can be downloaded to an pad or phone, the online presence should drive that not invade it. Combining forces does not mean you have to mash it all up, instead attract the different audiences and sell them something.
The New York Times Magazine famously doesn’t have to compete on the newsstand with other magazine so they can do whatever the hell they want inside. That leads to outstanding journalism and photography within an “aimless” (as magtastic calls it) overall package. The review the review of the redesign goes on to say the there’s a surprising “lack of hard-hitting photojournalism” and the “images are small and feel distant, used more to break up the page than to illuminate the story.” That’s going to be a real shame if this redesign uses photography as decoration for some art directors grid. In this day and age printing images at less than full bleed in a magazine is a complete waste of time. Let’s hope they come to their senses.